What on Earth is a Balanced Diet

Balance, balance, balance!

To have a healthy life, everything seems to come down to balance. If you lack in or have a surplus of nutrients, that’s when the problems start to appear. However, nothing in our lives has a way of balancing itself out automatically. We are the ones who have to maintain it – the order, the rhythm, the equilibrium!!!. Nutrition makes up about 70-80% of our health, because it is the main source of our energy, so having a balanced diet is extremely important for our physical well-being.

What is a Balanced Diet?
A balanced diet is one that provides the human body with optimum nutrition. It needs to contain foods from all the main food groups (in the correct proportions) and to be made up of the right number of calories, as well as be low in processed foods. In order for our cells, organs and tissues to be maintained and function correctly, they require minerals, vitamins, and essential nutrients – all provided through a balanced diet.
However, this is not a simple cut-and-dry math problem, because the human body is much more complex. The right diet for each of us varies, because our metabolisms differ. However, if you follow a diet which is low in undesirable nutrients (sugar, saturated fats, and sodium) and covers all food groups, you’re undoubtedly on the way to a healthier body.

How to Achieve It?
Not skipping breakfast and eating at least 3 meals per day is the prerequisite for achieving a balanced and healthy diet. Every single meal should be of a moderate portion size, as well as made of foods from each food group. A balanced diet should be low in trans- and saturated fats, salt, added sugar and cholesterol. Sedentary activities (watching TV or playing video games) should be reduced, while calorie intake should be balanced with the amount of physical activity you clock in. Being active and exercising regularly is an important part of the equation, so you should definitely take your jogging or bodybuilding clothes out of the closet, and work out to become and stay fit.

Balanced Diet Components
The components of a good, balanced diet are –fruit, vegetables, dairy, protein, fats and oils, and grains.

  • Fruits --- Very nutritious, high in fiber, low in calories, and virtually fat-free. In order to get a wide range of minerals and vitamins, be sure to include a variety of fruits in your diet. If you consume fruit juices and dried fruits, choose the unsweetened varieties and control your portion sizes because both of them are concentrated sources of calories.
  • Vegetables ---  Contain the most minerals/vitamins and the least calories. When preparing vegetables, make sure to steam or grill them (low fat cooking methods). If you have trouble with including enough vegetables in your everyday meals, you can add finely chopped or grated vegetables to mixed dishes like lasagna, burger mince or pasta sauce, as well as get a few servings of vegetables through vegetable juices.
  • Dairy and protein --- Dairy products include milk, yogurt and cheese, and are usually high in saturated fats. Dairy is an important source of calcium, vitamin D and protein. Protein-rich foods are poultry (with visible fat), lean meat, as well as nuts and seeds, peas, beans, fish, lentils, and eggs. Meat is also high in iron, while fish (sardines and salmons) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Also use low-fat cooking methods to minimize adding extra fat during the process of food preparation.
  • Grains, fats and oils --- Grains include rice, pasta, cereals, and bread, and are the largest source of carbohydrates. Whole-grain food varieties contain more B vitamins and are higher in fiber than the white versions. Avoid sweetened breads, as well as toasted or sugary breakfast cereals because they are higher in fat and calories. Fats are necessary for the proper functioning of the body, but they should be the right ones. Minimize the intake of trans- and saturated fats, and replace them with vegetable fats. Keep them to a minimum, because they have a high amount of calories. Other great sources of unsaturated fats are fish, avocado, and nuts.

If you want to achieve a balanced diet, you must be aware of your own calorie requirements. Always read product labels and choose your foods wisely. In this way, you will achieve a balanced and healthy diet for maximum nutritional benefit.

Written by:Samantha Olivier

Samantha has a B.Sc. in nutrition, and has spent two years working as a personal trainer. Since then, she has embarked on a mission to conquer the blogosphere. When not in the gym or on the track, you can find her on Twitter, or in a tea shop. She blogs over at Ripped.me